I declare I have been well and truly stung.
Stung to the tune of $400 for not declaring a stupid orange which I completely forgot was in my handbag when I went through Auckland Customs.
The offending orange had been in my bag for two days. I took it with me on a day trip just in case I needed a pick me up.
When I left my hotel in Fiji at 5.30 that morning the lovely staff had given me breakfast in a box, muffins and fruit. I made sure to get rid of anything I hadn't eaten when I boarded my plane homeward bound.
I dutifully ticked all the boxes declaring I had nothing to declare and was waved through customs. Then suddenly this little dog was at my ankles. Dog handler: "Have you got any food in your bag madam?"
Dog handler: Have you had any food in it recently?
Me: Um, yes I had an orange in there a couple of days ago.
Dog handler: May I look?
Me: Of course.
I actually laughed when she pulled out the orange. I found out it was no laughing matter.
Me: Oh goodness I'm so sorry I completely forgot about that.
Then a male officer asked me to follow him.
Me: It was a genuine mistake you know. I wasn't trying to smuggle an orange into the country. I know how important it is to protect our biosecurity.
He just nodded and smiled and kept walking.
Me: You're not going to fine me are you?
They did. I was issued with an infringement notice and given 14 days to pay. Just days later I read about a Vietnamese man who had five large live crabs in his bag. But the very clever man declared them. He was charged a service fee of just $20.
I know customs are just doing their job - and a fine job too - and it wasn't the orange that was stupid but me, but honestly I am not a smuggler, and I think the fine far exceeds the "crime".